Personality Pedagogy Newsletter Volume 8, Number 5, January 2014

Hello and welcome to the eighty-sixth Personality Pedagogy newsletter highlighting what’s new at For more about the links below and approximately 2,930 other interesting links related to personality, please visit:

Happy New Year! And for many of you, Happy New Semester! We have quite the newsy newsletter this month, starting with a strange and disturbing crime: vandals attempted to steal the ancient Greek urn containing the ashes of Sigmund Freud and his wife Martha Bernays. The vase was damaged in the process and is now kept in a more secure location.

Also, 2013 ended with an exciting and controversial new finding suggesting that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. But before you let the news go to your head (so to speak) check out the astute critique of the research and interpretation of the evidence by cognitive psychologist Christian Jarrett.

Finally, you may have noticed that we’ve spruced the place up a bit. We are in the process of adding photos and changing the page layout to make the site more readable.

As ever, please pass this newsletter on to interested colleagues and invite them to sign up for future issues and to visit the home of Personality Pedagogy: Remember, you can view the current newsletter, comment on newsletters, re-read what you missed in previous newsletters, or search all newsletters by checking out our blog at and you can even receive Personality Pedagogy newsletters via RSS feed as soon as they are posted, by clicking on the “RSS-posts” button on the bottom right.


Marianne Miserandino
miserandino “at” arcadia “dot” edu

1. The Personality Pedagogy Monthly Newsletter

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2. Urn Containing Sigmund Freud’s Ashes Smashed During Theft Attempt

“Staff at the crematorium in Golders Green discovered broken pieces of the urn, which dates from around 300BC and came from Freud’s collection of antiquities, lying on the floor on New Year’s Day, after thieves apparently broke in overnight and smashed it in the attempt to steal it.” The severely damaged urn was subsequently moved to a secure location according to staff at the crematorium. From “The Guardian”, January 15, 2014.

3. Male and Female Brains Wired Differently, Scans Reveal

According to research by Madhura Ingalhalikar and colleagues and summarized here “Scientists have drawn on nearly 1,000 brain scans to confirm what many had surely concluded long ago: that stark differences exist in the wiring of male and female brains.” Evidence suggests that men’s brains have more connectivity within each hemisphere; women have more connectivity between the hemispheres. From “The Guardian”, December 2, 2013.

4. Getting in a Tangle Over Men’s and Women’s Brain Wiring

Christian Jarrett for “Brain Watch” takes a critical view of the research and the interpretation of the evidence suggesting that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Posted December 4, 2013.

5. Is Narcissism Essential for Success?

The Association for Psychological Science reports the results of a study which suggests that “While narcissists are more likely to garner leadership positions, there was no evidence of a link between narcissism and a leader’s success . . . the poorest leaders are those with either extremely high or extremely low levels of narcissism.” January 17, 2014.

6. B. F. Skinner at the APA Annual Convention 1990

“Behavioral psychologist Dr. B. F. Skinner presented this keynote address at the American Psychological Association’s 1990 Annual Convention. In Dr. Skinner’s last public appearance, he expresses his belief that the proper role for psychological science is the analysis of behavior. He speaks about the path psychology has followed over the years, from early introspection methods to three kinds of variation and selection, including natural selection, the evolution of operant conditioning, and the evolution of culture.” August 10, 1990. (in English with Spanish subtitles). Runs 20 minutes, 56 seconds.

7. Nicholas Claus: Big Five for the Big Guy

Heather A. Haas wrote this humorous “case study” of Santa Claus using the big five. Find out whether the big guy is high or low on Extraversion Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness and the “evidence” she used to make her judgements in “Dialogue”, the newsletter of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, volume 19 (1), Spring 2004, p. 24-25, 21.

8. Parents Sinking Some Kids With Their Puffed-up Praise, Study Finds

Research by Eddie Brummelman and colleagues suggests that “Moms and dads who bathe kids in exaggerated flattery to boost low self-esteem are stifling the very children they hope to elevate, a new study shows.” From “NBC News”, January 3, 2014.

9. Should Every Kid Get a Trophy Just for Participating? presents this discussion by their commentators on whether children ought to get a trophy just for participating. Presents some interesting ideas to get your students thinking. Runs 7 minutes, 11 seconds.

10. Editing Your Life’s Stories Can Create Happier Endings

This piece from the NPR program “All Things Considered” uses the example of the author Lulu Miller’s nephew to illustrate the work of psychologist Tim Wilson. “Wilson has been studying how small changes in a person’s own stories and memories can help with emotional health. He calls the process “story editing” And he says small tweaks in the interpretation of life events can reap huge benefits.” From January 1, 2014. Includes a link to listen to the story, which runs 8 minutes, 54 second.

11. The Meaningful Life is a Road Worth Traveling

“A Stanford research project explored the key differences between lives of happiness and meaningfulness. While the two are similar, dramatic differences exist – and one should not underestimate the power of meaningfulness. “The quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human,” ” Jennifer Aaker and her colleagues concluded. From the “Stanford News”, January 1, 2014.

12. A Case Study Using CBT

The Australian Institute of Professional Counselors presents this excerpt from a counseling session of an actual client to illustrate the four basic steps of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: identify the automatic thought, question the validity of the automatic thought, and challenge core beliefs. Posted March 22, 2010.

13. CBT in Action: A Case Study

Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a counseling psychologist, illustrates how the use of Daily Mood Sheets can help clients see the the feelings and emotions caused by a triggering event. He presents this case study of “Jodie” and how she was able to recognize her problematic thought patterns and where they came from through therapy.

14. Psychologists Put the ‘Selfie’ On the Couch

Psychologists Lisa Obran and Andrew Przybylski explore both the positive (e.g., “self exploration and identity experimentation” in the service of relatedness needs and identity formation) and the negative (e.g.,”indulg[ing] in a narcissistic activity”) sides of selfies in this video for the #BBCtrending program. (runs 1 minute, 29 seconds).

15. Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over

“When a team of scientists in Finland asked people to map out where they felt different emotions on their bodies, they found that the results were surprisingly consistent, even across cultures.” From NPR Health News, December 30, 2013.

16. The Orchid Effect: How Relationships and Genetics Influence Your Health

Research by S. C. Suth and R. F. Krueger, published in “Psychological Science” found evidence for a genotype-environment interaction or “an orchid effect” in which “really bad marriages are capable of turning on (and even amplifying) any genetic predispositions one might have to experiencing poor health. But really good marriages may help “good health” genes thrive more so than they would have otherwise.” From the “Science of Relationships” blog, December 2, 2013.

17. Fearful ‘Memories’ Passed Between Generations Through Genetic Code

Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog summarizes a study by Dias and Ressler (2013) which found evidence that mice who were conditioned to become afraid of a particular smell passed that fear onto their offspring. Could this transgenerational genetic response happen in humans? That’s the big question. Published December 5, 2013.

18. Missing “Brake in the Brain” Can Trigger Anxiety

According to research published in the journal “Cerebral Cortex” and summarized here “social phobias and fear can be triggered in the brain [by] a missing inhibitory connection or missing “brake” in the brain.” “Science Daily”, December 4, 2013.

19. Favorite Link Revisited: Sigmund Freud’s Voice

Toward the end of his life, Freud was asked by the BBC to provide a brief statement about his decades-long career in psychoanalysis. He offered a succinct overview in 1938 which you can hear for yourself in his voice: “I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend and by my own efforts, I discovered some important and new facts about the unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science, Psycho-Analysis, a part of psychology and a new method of treatment of the neuroses. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavoury. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psycho-Analytic Association. But this struggle is not yet over. Sigmund Freud.” (runs 2 minutes)


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